Wed, Aug 22, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Pakistani stars join rebel Indian league

CONTROVERSIAL The board overseeing cricket in India has warned the nation's players they may be banned for life if they play in the upstart ICL

AP , NEW DELHI

Cricketers Mahela Jayawardene and Mohammad Yousuf, right, wait for drinks during the first One Day International match of the Afro-Asia cup between Asia XI and Africa XI at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore, India, in June. Yousuf joined India's unofficial Twenty20 league on Monday.

PHOTO: AFP

Star batsman Mohammad Yousuf and former skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq were among four Pakistani cricketers who on Monday joined India's unofficial Twenty20 league, which has been slammed by the national board.

Organizers of the Indian Cricket League (ICL), dubbed a rebel event after being denied permission by the Indian cricket board, said Pakistani players Imran Farhat and Abdul Razzaq had also accepted contracts from the ICL.

ICL's chairman and former Indian captain, Kapil Dev, on Monday announced the names of 50 players at a crowded media event in Mumbai.

Promoted by a television company, the ICL will feature six teams in Twenty20 matches between October and November.

Yousuf and Razzaq were dropped from the Pakistan team for next month's Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa, prompting Razzaq to announce his retirement as an international on Monday.

Beside the Pakistani stars, the list features former West Indies skipper Brian Lara and two South African cricketers, Lance Klusener and Nicky Boje.

Boje's decision to play in the ICL has caused some surprise since he had earlier refused to tour India with the South African team. His name figures among those the New Delhi police want to question in connection with a match-fixing scandal in 2000.

Lara was the first big star to join the ICL.

The event has rankled the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which warned Indian players that if they joined the rival league, they would invite a life ban and also lose financial benefits.

The Indian board's threat seems to have failed as several former internationals and young state team players have signed up for the rival league.

Indian internationals Dinesh Mongia, Deep Dasgupta, Jai Prakash Yadav, Reetinder Sodhi, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Thiru Kumaran were among the Indian players to join the ICL.

The Indian board's officials met yesterday in Mumbai to discuss their response to the ICL and to defiant players.

"As a cricketer, I see the ICL as an opportunity to play with some of the game's legends," said Mongia, who has been a sporadic member of the Indian team during the past couple of years.

Mongia, 30, last appeared in a limited-overs international during the Champions Trophy last year. He was considered a player who might get a call to join the Indian national team any day, but has preferred to accept a two-year contract from the rival league.

The captain of India's 1983 World Cup champion team, Dev has dared the Indian board to sack him as chairman of the National Cricket Academy, insisting he was doing nothing wrong by promoting cricket.

Sandip Patil, Madan Lal and Balwinder Sandhu, all members of the 1983 World Cup champion team, have joined Dev in signing up with the league. They have coaching assignments for the ICL teams that will feature foreign stars and Indian youngsters.

Following the BCCI directive that no member of the board should have any link with the ICL, former test wicketkeeper Kiran More quit his position as secretary of the Baroda Cricket Association.

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